Black & White – Melbourne CBD
Overnight, we finally came to the end of Melbourne’s longest heat wave on record, with the daytime temperatures over 32 degrees (over 90F) for 9 consecutive days in a row (and the night-time temperatures not much better).
By yesterday morning, I’d more than had enough. My normally cool flat had warmed up to the point where I was literally sitting 2-3 feet away from my floor fan with a never-ending carafe of chilled water on my desk and a bare minimum of clothes. The only reason I had any clothes on at all was because neighbours can see through the curtains when walking down my side path.
Night time was the worst, as my bedroom has no shady trees overlooking it during the daytime, so it was stifling by the time I went to bed.
My neighbour had taken me shopping last Thursday, but I’d nearly passed out and had to keep stopping for ‘rest’ stops from the car park to the air-conditioned fresh food market. Melbourne’s hot summer is not for the elderly, babies……… and little ‘ol me. The last time it was this unbearably hot was in 2009 when it got to 46C (115F) in Melbourne and every single leaf in my garden roasted a golden brown (literally). It took about 2 years for most residential & public gardens to recover from that summer. But at least that heat wave only lasted a few days.
MY daily LIFE & photography excursions continue TO REVOLVE AROUND THE WEATHER………….. LITERALLY!
In desperation yesterday, (as I was fed up with being housebound), I caught an air-conditioned bus to an air-conditioned tram to the air-conditioned city. (Except that I walked from the top of the city down to the main shopping area through the shaded lanes & arcades, so the walk warmed me up considerably).
I had decided to put my 50mm lens on my camera and shoot in monochrome for the whole afternoon (as a challenge). Normally I have my 18-200mm lens on the camera most of the afternoon and shoot in colour (with the occasional image turned into Black & White in editing).
I have to tell you it was not easy. I decided the first Chinatown image (above), had too much grey. I didn’t mind the over-exposed background. I have never had the DSLR on Monochrome for most of the afternoon before. But having a love of Black & White photo images, I decided that 2013 was going to be a year of challenging myself to ‘think outside the box’ and try a few different camera settings – Black & White being one of them. My New Year’s resolution took a couple of months to kick in though.
I found it a little hard to determine which scenes had sufficient contrast to make good Black & White images and which scenes had too much bright sunlight & deep dark shade (which would be impossible to get the exposure correct – unless they were heavily Photoshopped). I’m not a fan of a lot of post processing, but to be honest, I don’t have the interest in spending hours poring over a computer screen with Photoshop or Lightroom. I spent over 30 years in an office environment working with computers and I sure don’t want to do it in ‘retirement
It took me a whole walk through Chinatown practising, before I came up with some images that sort of looked OK on the LCD screen. Because I shoot with my thick distance spectacles on, it’s almost impossible for me to review images at the time of shooting. The only way I can get reasonably good shots is to take many photos of each subject and hope that I get a few ‘keepers’ out of the series. After nearly 3 years of photography, I get quite a few keepers on my photography excursions these days. I admit that most of my Black & White shots taken yesterday needed the light and contrast ‘tweaked’ in the iPhoto editing section on the Mac Pro. I don’t mind a little ‘tweaking’ …….as long as it doesn’t take too long, that is. I’ve decided not to use Photoshop Elements any more. I’m going to concentrate on trying to improve my ‘in camera‘ photography. That was my second New Year’s Resolution.
Chinatown has a little Street Art too – not like the hidden lane ways near the southern end of the city’s CBD, but certainly Street Art (as opposed to graffiti). Bit harder to shoot with the 50mm lens and the DSLR set on ‘Monochrome’ though. I had to keep crossing the street and moving around trying to re-compose. My telephoto lens is still my favourite lens. And I think it will take quite a lot of practice to shoot in Monochrome. Maybe it will be easier in Autumn and/or Spring with the light being a little softer.
But then, that’s what makes a good photo – practice, practice & more practice. Learning to ‘see’. Learning to capture the Light (or lack thereof).
Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not. Actually I don’t mind the over-exposed section of the photo below. I ended up increasing the ‘highlights’ slider as far as it would go (to get that faint building outline at the end of the over-exposed lane way. I suppose I could have taken 3 images, one under-exposed, one over-exposed and one somewhere in between and over-laid them in Photoshop, but I’ve never actually done that before. The truth is that I’m lazy when it comes to photo editing. As I’ve said before, (more than once), I don’t want to be a Photo Editor, I want to be a Photographer.
I even like the image below (despite it being out of focus) – there’s a timeless feeling about the photo. If there hadn’t been a couple of cars partly visible at the end of the lane, it could have been shot 50 years ago in one of Chinatown’s lanes. Maybe it would have lost that timeless quality if the focus had been sharp? I think in this case, the faint blur adds to the composition. With the tree hiding some of the modern office building in the background, there is a hint of a country lane atmosphere coming through.
Not so, the photo appearing after it though – no mistaking the city with that image. Actually, on reflection, I think I over-sharpened the focus in editing, but I’m not changing it now it’s in this post.
Yesterday, I only reverted to colour when I walked down Hosier Lane towards the end of the afternoon, renown as one of Melbourne’s greatest lane ways of Street Art (and yes, on this occasion, I did ask this man if he would mind me taking his photo – he thought I was a tourist – and said OK). The street art has been overlaid with graffiti in this image.
Then I stopped in at St Paul’s Cathedral where an assistant refilled my water bottle for the trip home (and I took a lot of lousy photos with the 50mm lens which I deleted as soon as I reviewed them on the computer). I must have been wobbling with heat fatigue. The Cathedral ‘volunteer’ manning the information desk, brought a fan to cool me down and bade me sit for a while to recover.
Well, ok, I’ll give you an example of ‘heat fatigue‘ – LOL. I’m going to keep this shot so I’ve got a good example of how NOT to take a photo (Big Grin).
Then out the door for the short walk to the tram stop. I took a few shots of seagulls resting on a lawn area of the main city square as I waited to catch a tram (& then bus) home.
It’s sunny outside today and I’m going for a walk as the wind is relatively cool and gusty – too gusty for photos, but I daren’t leave the DSLR at home – that’s a sure way to miss a photo opportunity.